From the outset let me declare that I love the church of Jesus Christ and am thankful to God for it. The Church is my family on earth and for all eternity, because of Jesus. In spite of this love and gratitude, the Church of Christ in this nation is in ever deepening peril and not only because of the perversity of the nation in which we dwell as aliens and strangers. The peril is due to deepening complacency and lethargy to God’s heart, His purposes and our true calling. The National Day of Prayer theme was “Wake Up America”, but it should have been “Wake up my beloved and let Christ give you light” (Ephesians 5:14-15). This will be explained in more detail later. What I write may be difficult to hear and quite possibly will make many angry. My hope is that you will consider the following diagnosis in light of the word of God.
Let’s Stop Pandering and Patronizing Politicians
As Christians must heed the command for us to obey civil authorities, as far as that obedience does not compromise our faith in Christ and the practice thereof. This call to obey civil authority, even when the civil authority is growing against us is quite clear, so long as we are not called to compromise our faith. One of the more interesting portions of Romans 13:5-7 “Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs are due, fear to whom fear is due, honor to whom honor is due“.
This text becomes important for us, for it is most often used to justify the behavior associated with much of our civil Christian experience. Whenever we have judges, congressmen, mayor’s or other public officials who turn up our events, spiritual leaders feel the need to recognize them by name, declaring how hard they work on our behalf and then generate applause. This was front in center in both events I participated in, where God’s men did all they could to recognize the contributions of the public servants. Well what’s wrong with that one may ask? It is not particularly biblical or a part of necessary Christian behavior. This is why Romans 13:5-7 was added above, for when the practice of falling all over public servants is questioned, the answer usually given in response is “give honor to whom honor is due”. That would be a great text for justification if that is what honor meant, but it is not what it the word means. To honor whom deserves honor is to show proper respect and etiquette in dealing with governing authorities.
Considering the public officials that were recognized at our gathering, I assume the are relatively good people who do their best to do a good job, but they get paid and possibly re-elected as their reward. One may declare “they do a job we don’t want to do”, well yes, but they want to do it and know the difficulty, and get paid. Being that God is a not a respecter of persons, should we not be? So if we applaud for those who are perceived to be on our side doing a good job, as appropriate honor, should we not applaud for those who are less on our side as well, and not doing a good job in our sight? Or maybe we need to reconsider how we relate to public servants entirely, and if our activities pleases God at all.
Jesus had something to say about this concerning bond slaves, whose did not get paid and were out plowing in a field all day in Luke 17:7-10. He declares that if the people hearing Him (the crowd and the disciples), were the bond slaves’ master, which one of them would tell the slave to come and eat. The master would say “prepare my supper and feed me, then you can eat. Read what Jesus says next…
Luke 17:9-10 (NKJV) Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’ “
Why do we spend such time and energy applauding civil servants and public officials, when they are merely to be carrying out the commands of those who entrusted the office to them? In the first place and most innocently, we are going through the motions. We are doing what we think is expected. In the second place, and more selfishly, we are not merely applauding but pandering and patronizing to gain their favor or favors.
Beloved we must beware, for the Church and its men of God are not to cozy up to the world, but to be in a position of to speak prophetically to them, and through our being set apart unto Christ, to be a source of conviction. I wonder how many relatively moral and religiously good public servants, wandered away from our meetings where they applauded, yet have never been born again or even convicted of their need for Christ, and are no closer to the Redeemer than the atheist who hates God. Why do we applaud? Because we are hoping to get something out of the applause.
Let’s Pray for Them… But Lets Pray Appropriately!!!
I realize what I just wrote sounds beyond out of place in our culture, where every kid gets a trophy for participation and the content of a person character no longer matters as long as they promise to advance our personal agendas. In spite of how out of place it may seem it is true, yet how do we honor those who are in public service, beyond appropriate biblical submission and reverence due their office? By praying for them.
1 Timothy 2:1-4 (NKJV) Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
When we gather together or are in our closets we ought to pray for these public officials, as it is our Christian duty; but let us pray appropriately, not in fear or going through the motions. As we gathered last week, we prayed for many civil servants including President Obama and NY State Governor Andrew Cuomo. Yet as we prayed, it was quite obvious we were not praying with confidence according to his will (I John 5:14-15). What is the will of God concerning public officials? In accordance with I Timothy 2:4, we find His will is that all men will be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. Therefore, the state of a man’s soul when praying for them or about them is the first consideration. Secondly, we are to pray that these people would be moved by God in such a way, that we would be able to lead our Christian life peaceably, in godliness and reverence.
As we gathered together we did not pray for the souls of the President of the United States, nor The Governor of the State of New York, commensurate to their eternal need. As a matter of fact nary a prayer was spoken (if any) about the lost citizens of our town or nation. Nor did we pray for the kind of change needed in them that would allow for I Timothy 2:1-4 to even be a possibility. Why were these necessary and biblical elements missing?
The main reason is that we need to first approach the subject of prayer with sobriety and truth and we did not do that. When considering Jesus, I am assuming He prayed for king Herod and the same Pharisee’s that were persecuting Him, yet He characterized them as they were in truth. When asked Jesus called Herod a fox and labeled the Pharisee’s as blind guides, white washed tombs full of death, and fools. The point is Jesus could pray for them appropriately for He defined them in truth. It seems to me when we pray publicly, we are either completely lacking in discernment or afraid to speak the truth in public about these men, for fear of being branded negatively.
Considering President Obama, we have a man who claims Christianity but exclusively pursues policies which are antithetical to the Spirit of Christ. That would be called, being under the influence of anti-Christ. When regarding the governor of New York, the same can be said. In truth these are men who are desperately wicked and in need of God to free them from their bondage to sin and Satan, not for our sake but for their own souls. Yet we did not pray about those needs, with any significant attention or emotion. Sadly I must ask, do we really care about these men as lost souls or are we just making the donuts? If we’re not just going through the motions, we must consider the possibility that we are afraid of being perceived as negative to the public and to those who come to our churches; which is clearly the fear of man.
To push this a bit further and even deeper into biblical prayer, consider with me for a moment the prayer offered in Acts Chapter 4:29-31… “‘Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.’ And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness”.
The disciples were facing full blown persecution and prayed that their ministry would be filled with the supernatural power of God, in order that the Gospel of Christ would be believed, as they proclaimed it boldly. Was this the tenor of our praying in our National Day of prayer meetings? Yes we need to pray for leaders soberly, truthfully and powerfully, but we also need to recognize the times we are in. The sad reality in America is that we are often praying for a return to some golden age of a Christian nation that never existed. We are asking God to give us something that is not in His end times plan. We are not in a recovery mission, but a battle against the very existence of the Church of Jesus Christ. We need to pray as they did in Acts Chapter four, but we must first wake up to the reality of our own condition.
Is There Really Hope for America
In our evening gathering, one of the pastor’s declared that in the face of the very real threats the church faces, he still had hope for America. This brought vigorous applause. Though I can appreciate his desire to focus us on hope, the question begs, what did he mean? Let’s consider he meant he still has hope that with right politicians in place, America can return to happier times where the society is more reflective of our Christian wants and desires. This seems to be the battle cry from the conservative Christian political movement in this nation, as long as I can remember.
The only problem is that if we understand the outlay of God’s plan in the scriptures overall, America is no more special than any other nation that is not Israel; For the nations are a drop in the bucket to the Lord, no more than dust balanced on a scales (Isaiah 40:15). The point I am making is we must be careful of the idea that America was or ever will be a Christian nation. Lately this has gotten a good amount of press, and Russel Moore, a leader in the Southern Baptist Convention, has taken some heat for declaring this very thing (I have included links to two articles on this subject at the bottom of this post).
Even if we grant that at some point the United States of America was majorly influenced by our faith, that time has well passed. This nations sins have risen greater than those of Sodom. When we see the deluge of Antichrist court decisions, the immorality in media, and how wickedness is being marketed through every avenue of life, we can easily see Genesis 6:5, where the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of men’s hearts was only continually evil. The only hope in that time was a huge ark built by Noah. The only hope for the people of this nation, is not the rise of conservative values or morals or principals, but in getting into the Ark of this age or grace, which is Jesus Christ the Lord. The American people’s only hope, lies with those who carry the message of Christ, but WE NEED TO WAKE UP AND LET CHRIST GIVE US LIGHT (Ephesians 5:14-15).
During the afternoon rally, this is where the Lord led me to read from Psalm 60:1-5
O God, You have cast us off; You have broken us down;
We have no hope for a political savior. We have no hope of continuing legal protection through civil rights. We have no hope of escaping the hatred of satanic forces persecuting us this side of heaven. Why has He led us to this place of no hope? Because He wants us to remember He is our only hope. His forgiveness through the blood of Jesus is our hope. His promise of His presence to overcome the world, our flesh and the devil, as we are transformed in the trial, is our hope. His promise that He will return for us is our hope. His promise of eternal life with Jesus our Redeemer is our hope. HE IS OUR HOPE.